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Understanding the links between positive psychology and fashion: A grounded theory analysis

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Abstract

Fashion is clearly under-represented within contemporary psychology. Amongst the few empirical works that do exist, individual clothing behaviours are frequently dealt with in a context of psychological ill-being. This contradicts earlier psychological writings where clothing practices were thought to be life-affirming and well-being enhancing activities. Against this backdrop, this study explored fashion from a positive psychological perspective. Ten participants reported their subjective experience of day-to-day clothing practices in response to open-ended inquiry. Grounded theory analysis revealed that clothing practices were employed as powerful techniques to negotiate selfhood, befriend the body and manage mood. The interaction of these three processes enabled the management of everyday well-being as fashion was found to be a rich source of positivity in participants’ lives. These findings have far-reaching implications for the field of (positive) psychology, opening up a number of doors for potential future research.

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... It is well established that fashion is used a tool for self-expression Entwistle & Wilson 2001). Specifically, Hefferon and colleagues (Hefferon & Boniwell, 2011;Masuch & Hefferon, 2014) have highlighted the use of clothing in negotiating selfhood, allowing selfexpression and creating sameness. Our first study outcomes align with this, as the participants described using fashion to find and communicate their sartorial self. ...
... Recent studies in social psychology have devoted a very finite amount of their research and efforts to the investigation and elaboration on the "phenomenology of dress", with fashion being either "overtly marginalised, devalued, trivialised, or entirely neglected in scholarly discourse" (Brydon & Niessen, 1998;Entwistle & Wilson, 2001;Kawamura, 2005;Tseëlon, 2001a). Albeit there being a substantial growth in interest in the fashion-sphere from both integrative scholarly and industrial perspectives, clothing practices have altogether been given the "cold shoulder" from psychology (Masuch & Hefferon, 2014). However, provided the assumption that fashion style and clothing functions are somewhat psychologically stimulated, the relationship is one that demands revision and further analyses. ...
... Most recently, fashion and clothing practices are empirically confined to the bounds of social psychology and "person perception" (Masuch & Hefferon, 2014;Frith & Gleeson, 2004;Tseëlon, 2001b) with particular disregard to the impact on body-image and well-being. The limited research in this realm of research has been dedicated to the manifestation of fashion's negative implications on body-image: concentrating predominantly on the interrelation between clothing and eating disorders (Trautmann-Attmann & Widner Johnson, 2007), depression (Dubler & Gurel, 1984), schizophrenia (Andreasen, 1982;Arnold et al., 1993), and it being a "potential signifier and consequence of profound individual identity crises and loss of reality" (Masuch & Hefferon, 2014;Campo et al., 2007). ...
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In recent decades, a new branch of marketing called ‘neuromarketing’ has received considerable attention from both academics and marketers. It involves the combined use of traditional marketing tools, psychology and neuroscience. Neuromarketing offers an in-depth insight and understanding of human cognition and consumer behaviour. Marketers can learn about both the conscious and unconscious dimensions of the consumer decision-making process, as well as the explicit and implicit motivation to buy a product. There is a dearth of scholarly works containing practical information and describing industry trends related to the application of neuromarketing in luxury fashion marketing in Southeast Asia. To fill this void, this chapter explores how neuromarketing can be used to greatly improve marketing communication in SE Asia markets. This chapter presents a comprehensive analysis of the application of neuromarketing to support market research, product development and marketing communication associated with luxury fashion marketing in SE Asia markets.KeywordsNeuromarketingNeuroethicsEEGfMRIEye trackingSkin responseGSR
... Fashion has been largely ignored by positive psychology (PP); only one paper has been published which addresses the topic explicitly. Masuch and Hefferon's (2014) prioritising profit above individual wellbeing (Beard 2008). According to González and Bovone (2012:167), contemporary psychology has generally viewed fashion enthusiasts as shallow and frivolous histrionic personality types who pay too much attention to others' ...
... Apart from Masuch and Hefferon (2014) there is no theory to connect fashion and PP. ...
... Positive emotions underpin wellbeing. Masuch and Hefferon (2014) found that hedonic pleasure was part of daily dress practices. Positive emotions were referenced most overtly in 'shaping my Identity', but occurred in managing mood in 'coping strategies' and sharing a love of dressing-up in 'social identities'. ...
Book
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Proceedings of papers presentaed at the 3rd Applied Positive Psychology Symposium at Bucks New University, Saturday 20th May 2017
... However, what it actually means to be a fashion model remains unclear. Masuch and Hefferon (2014) note that the area of fashion has been largely neglected within contemporary psychology. Though this may be true of fashion studies in general, what psychology has not neglected is how fashion has been consumed, and the effect that professionals within the fashion industry may have on their audience. ...
... Whilst large samples can inform us about general trends within populations, it must also be acknowledged that psychology is about understanding individuals, therefore research at an idiographic level is also important. Similar to Masuch and Hefferon's (2014) contention that mainstream psychology has neglected fashion, the discipline has previously been accused of neglecting human experience (Stevens 1996). Based on the fact that psychology is the study of human behaviour, this seems counterintuitive, and authors such as Smith (1996Smith ( , 2011a and Smith et al. (2009) have highlighted the important contribution that experiential research can make. ...
Article
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Research into fashion modelling within the field of psychology remains sparse. Empirical studies do exist, but they are rare and exhibit a tendency to pathologize models, and provide only a superficial insight into this career. Little is known about who a fashion model really is; what a young person who models experiences in their careers; or how fashion models make sense of their role. With this in mind, the current study seeks to explore the lived experience of young people who are fashion models. Three participants offered experiential accounts of modelling in the fashion industry, and Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) revealed superordinate themes: ‘Growth and Development’, ‘Changes in Self-Perception’ and ‘A Job? Or a Way of Life?’ Change was found to be an integral part of the participants’ experiences, which led to both positive and negative developmental outcomes, including a self-reported growth in confidence and maturity, yet a potentially more self-critical view of one’s appearance. The role seemed to be an all-encompassing lifestyle rather than a job, and it is argued that modelling at a young age may act as a catalyst for a transition into adulthood. This study is exploratory in nature but provides an initial insight into the experiences of fashion modelling. The discussion identifies ways in which cognate sub-disciplines of psychology may contribute to this area of research, thus developing and extending further the psychological literature base in the field of fashion studies.
... The positive link between slow fashion and well-being needs to be evaluated in a more systematic way. The current literature is limited to mostly qualitative studies with small samples drawn from Western societies [10,50,51]. Not only does the relationship need to be evaluated with larger and more diverse samples, it also needs to be systematically examined in the context of different categories or types of slow fashion. ...
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The environmental price of fashion has been heavily scrutinised in recent years. Slow fashion, with its emphasis on quality, design, sustainability, ethicality and local craft heritage, represents an alternative to the harmful environmental and social impact of fast fashion. Equally important, some initial evidence from qualitative research suggests that slow fashion could enhance consumers’ well-being. The present study aims to quantitatively evaluate the relationships that fast and slow fashion may have with different domains of well-being, utilising Seligmen’s influential PERMA model from positive psychology. In addition, it explores characteristics from slow fashion that may enhance garment lifetimes. An online questionnaire successfully surveyed 763 urban Chinese consumers. Results showed that consumption of slow fashion, in particular ‘customised/bespoke clothing’ that allows consumers to be actively involved in the creation process, positively predicted three well-being domains—engagement, meaning and achievement. Fast fashion, on the other hand, negatively predicted these domains. Classic/timeless design, ease of maintenance and ease of matching with other clothes emerged as the three most important characteristics that may encourage consumers’ long-term use of fashion items. Implications of the findings are discussed in the context of promoting slow fashion to enhance sustainability.
... Emotions and fashion are also known to be intertwined (Masuch & Hefferon, 2014;Moody et al., 2010;Smith & Yates, 2018), particularly in that purchasing can lead to a specific pattern of emotions (based on dimensions of hostility, surprise and interest; Westbrook & Oliver, 1991). More recently, research has examined purchase-related emotions in the context of counterfeit purchasing, with several studies indicating feelings of guilt, anger and shame after having purchased counterfeit (Elsantil & Hamza, 2019;Kapferer & Valette-Florence, 2022;Liao et al., 2010;Sharma & Chan, 2016;Viot et al., 2014). ...
Article
The study identified contrasting experiences of purchasing and owning luxury fashion counterfeit items: while some participants carefully considered and were ultimately satisfied with their counterfeit purchase, others impulsively purchased and later reappraised and regretted their decision. The findings underlined the importance of consumer perceptions of quality to luxury and luxury counterfeit fashion products. They showed how education about the unethical features of the counterfeit industry could change consumer behavior.
... ,Griffin and Maliha 2009;Frith and Gleeson 2008;Tiggemann and Lacey 2009;Masuch and Hefferon 2014); to boost our morale(Tiggemann and Lacey 2009); and to manage emotions/mood(Kang, Johnson and Kim 2013; ...
Chapter
This chapter discusses the relationship that personal objects and dress have with individuals’ autobiographical memories, sense of self, and psychological well-being. The first part of the chapter introduces the psychological literature on autobiographical memory. It then presents theories and empirical evidence suggesting that autobiographical memories influence the self, as well as emotions, behaviors, and psychological well-being both over time and immediately upon retrieval. The second part of the chapter draws on psychology and disciplines such as anthropology and material culture studies to demonstrate how personal objects and dress can serve as powerful reminders of past experiences and past selves. It also attempts to elucidate the mechanisms through which personal objects and dress may influence psychological well-being. The chapter concludes by highlighting the need for further research in this area and how this research may help enhance vulnerable individuals’ well-being while reducing the environmental impact of the fashion industry.
... Positive emotions underpin wellbeing. Masuch and Hefferon (2014) found that hedonic pleasure was part of daily dress practices. Positive emotions were referenced most overtly in "shaping my identity," but occurred in managing mood in "coping strategies" and sharing a love of dressing-up in "social identities." ...
Article
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Little research has been conducted into the relationship between fashion and psychology, even less on how individuals create wellbeing through appearance and clothing. In this study, the subjective experience of wearing an “outfit that makes you happy” was analyzed using interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA). Six participants, both male and female, were interviewed wearing an outfit that “made them happy.” The semi-structured interviews highlighted the importance of “intentionally managing identity.” Analysis found subordinate themes: shaping identity, coping strategies, and social identity. These were broken down into “knowing who I am,” “matching my outsides to my insides,” “creating my best self,” “managing moods,” “resilience,” “fashioning positive relationships,” and “shared values,” and linked to the concept of flourishing in positive psychology (PP). The results suggest that how the participants dress plays an active part in their wellbeing through expressing positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment (PERMA).
Article
Mode ist ein multidimensionales Phänomen und kann aus verschiedenen Blickwinkeln analysiert werden. Sowohl im Alltag als auch im akademischen Kontext wird sie jedoch vergleichsweise selten als politisches Phänomen gesehen. Dennoch können sowohl die Mode als auch die Kleidung Mittel zur Bildung, zur Aufrechterhaltung oder zur Umgestaltung von Relationen von Macht, zur (Re-)Affirmation bestehender Gesellschaftsstrukturen oder zur Artikulation individueller und kollektiver Identitäten sein. Die Rhetorik der Kleidung wird bisweilen als Form des politischen Protests und der Forderung nach gesellschaftlicher Anhörung sowie Anerkennung genutzt, die Kleidungspraktiken können verboten, befohlen, in Frage gestellt oder fetischisiert werden, sie beeinflussen die Produktionsform und die Entwicklung der Industrie, während öffentliche Debatten zu Kleidungspraktiken nicht selten zu gesellschaftlichen Echos fuhren. Dabei ist die politische Bedeutung einer Kleidung nicht für immer gegeben, weil die mit ihr einhergehende Bedeutung sich durch grosse Instabilität charakterisiert. Thema des vorliegenden Artikels sind die wichtigsten Kontexte zur Verbindung von Mode und Politik im akademischen Modediskurs. Es werden zeitgenössische Forschungstexte analysiert, die sich mit dem politischen Charakter von Mode und Kleidung befassen. Hauptziel des Artikels ist, eine Differenzierung zwischen dem "politischen Charakter von Mode" und der "Politisierung von Kleidung" einzuführen, die es ermöglicht, das Wissen über Mode als politischer Kraft zu kategorisieren. Die kritische Analyse des Forschungsstands der gegenwärtigen fashion studies zeigt darüber hinaus weitere Forschungsrichtungen der besprochenen Thematik auf.
Chapter
The current research aims to assess the use of clothing practices as a means of communicating and expressing the Egyptian woman’s newfound confidence in the MENA region, with a particular focus on Egypt. The evolution in local fashion designers and consumer demands paints a clear and beautiful picture of how women across the region are using fashion to express their growth, their power, and their love—for themselves and for their cultures. One-to-one interviews were conducted with fashion moguls and designers who work and live in Egypt. Interview questions focused on understanding when and how the transition from Western- to ethnic-style demands surfaced and how they align with societal shifts. Our research shed a light on the ways in which neighbouring and international brands and fashion houses can appreciate and empathise with the women of the MENA region: communicate, market, and support their growth and energy.KeywordsEmpowermentWomenEgyptFashionFashion psychologyConsumer behaviour
Chapter
Traditional Indian clothing drives most womenswear spending in India; however, young Indian consumers are increasingly interested in Western fast fashion and environmentally friendly brands. We conducted two studies to examine young Indian consumers’ attitudes towards Western and Indian fashion, brand equity, and environmental attitudes and behaviours. Using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, Study 1 assessed five Generation Z (Gen Z) members’ attitudes towards Western and Indian fashion. Study 2 assessed Gen Z’s (n=44) brand equity towards Western and Indian brands, environmental behaviour and attitudes. Results showed that while some participants held positive attitudes towards Western fast fashion brands, traditional Indian fashion was perceived as better quality and with more positive associations. For traditional Indian fashion, perceived quality and brand associations positively predicted participation in recycling, while brand associations and brand loyalty positively predicted environmental attitudes. The findings suggest that Western brands could benefit from understanding traditional Indian fashion’s emphasis on brand quality, associations, loyalty and sustainable practices.KeywordsIndian fashionWestern fast fashionTraditional fashionSustainabilityGeneration Z
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Purpose Our study explored and mapped cisgender female consumers' motivation and shopping experience for cross-sexual fashion, i.e. people shopping for clothes that are not designed or marketed for their biological sex. Design/methodology/approach Using a qualitative method, this study explored and mapped consumers' motivation and shopping experience for cross-sexual fashion. Thirteen cisgender female millennials were interviewed about their memories and perceptions of their pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase experiences. Findings The findings defined the model of cross-sexual shopping behaviour in cisgender women with the following: (1) two pre-purchase schemes, i.e. fashioned gender schema and nonconformity motivation; (2) one pivotal and main purchase factor, i.e. time invested in the experience itself; and (3) two post-purchase schemes, i.e. use for comfort and use for protection. Practical marketing approaches in advertising and in-store experiences were identified in order to better target cross-sexual consumers. Originality/value Unisex fashion (or degendered fashion) has pioneered a fashion trend considered a growing trend in younger generations. To our knowledge, this study is the first research exploring regendered fashion (i.e. going beyond the cisgender and same-sex purchase approach of fashion consumerism) through the lens of cross-sexual consumer behaviour.
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Confronted with the fashion industry’s serious socio-environmental impact and acknowledging that fast fashion provokes unstable relationships with clothing, accelerating loss of value and early disposal, this article explores those cases in which garments are still valued and attachment is strong. We are interested in identifying the motives behind the bonds that are developed toward cherished pieces of clothing. For this, we have analyzed more than 600 short stories, written by men and women from all over Chile, that justify those garments that remain in their closets for many seasons and reasons. The results allow us to identify a set of attributes and their correlations, enriching the discussion about the relationship between people and dress.
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I intend to offer in this article a visualized research of teenager lesbian style on TikTok and a discourse of queer safe spaces in networked contexts. Due to the influence of the queer feminist movement, the social acceptance of queerness has increased in most countries. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning groups are no longer limited by the gay ‘dress code’, which is historically used to protect queer identity from discrimination and violence. During my personal nomadic experience moving from China to the Netherlands, I noticed that it is hard to pick out someone who ‘looks gay’ in the street. The freedom of dressing and self-expression has gradually become universal in western countries. Whereas, without legalized same-sex marriage in mainland China, visibility in style is still a signification of sexuality and a way of communication. Beyond the diversity of style, a new form of lesbian ‘dress code’ on TikTok has triggered me to examine safe spaces for teenagers. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the fashion industry finds itself in a challenging condition, which is accelerating its digital transformation. An increasing number of fashion labels see potential in TikTok as a new public territory to practise self-exploration for numerous teens. By analysing the visual content and interviewing four TikTok creators, this article addresses the gap between public and insider prejudice around codes of dressing. It proposes not only to rethink the relation between fashion and identity but also to ruminate on queer safe space through researching ways of dressing.
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Research shows that clothing style can influence self-perception, cognition and behaviour. However, the concept of personal clothing style and how it is linked to self-concept from an individual and subjective perspective of the wearer has received limited empirical attention. This qualitative study aimed to explore women’s lived experiences and perceptions of personal clothing style. Using a homogeneous sample of seven female participants, data were collected through in-depth semi-structured interviews. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis revealed that personal clothing style constitutes an embodiment of the true self, representation of the ideal self and expression of the creative self. More specifically, personal clothing style is predicated on self-knowledge, consistency and enduring sense of comfort. It is also perceived to actualize desired self-conceptions and one’s creative potential. Findings not only provide an empirically founded conceptualization of personal clothing style, but also identify its important psychological properties with implications for both psychology and fashion research.
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